×

Discovery Channel’s ‘Hello World’ Lets Music Stars Go Wild About Species, Habitats

Discovery Channel developed “Hello World” as a bid to shake up the nature-programming genre. The six-part series explores species and habitats through the eyes of six musical artists: Usher, Christina Aguilera, Steven Tyler, Ellie Goulding, Joan Jett, and Dave Matthews. Produced in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Radical Media, the show uses the artists’ lyrics, music, and commentary as a soundtrack for footage of animals in the wild.

Two Step Up: The show required some original thinking, and two production team members in particular contributed their unique experiences: Writer and supervising producer Andy Yerkes, who has a background in children’s programming, is a former speechwriter for the Environmental Protection Agency; and editor Vito DeCandia has cut nonfiction content and musical productions, including installments of the “American Express Unstaged” concert series.

A Sound Plan: The clips didn’t have the sound quality DeCandia wanted, because camera operators shooting animals in nature often use a long lens from a great distance. That meant sound design was a separate component of the production. While each episode is musically driven, the diegetic sounds of nature and animals are layered in a separate track.

Freestyle Writing: Yerkes wrote episodes anticipating the vocal style of the targeted artists, enabling them
to contribute to the tone of the voiceover. “It was important to leave the writing open for their interpretation,”
he says.

A Sliding Scale: Once told who would be performing, DeCandia anticipated their speech rhythms and laid down basic edits. The final structure was dictated by the musicians’ songs. Because the talent had varying degrees of voiceover experience, the production team recorded each session in stages. First, the artists were brought into a screening room where their initial reactions to watching a temp track were recorded for later use. After the scripts were reworked with the artist’s contributions, the episode’s voiceover session was recorded. An optional third session was available for artists to record the story in their own words. Says Yerkes, “They had great ideas, and sometimes we were rewriting in the recording sessions.”

Taming the Footage: DeCandia and his team were overwhelmed by the beauty of the footage they were given to work with. Whittling it down was their main challenge. “I felt like I was in a playground,” he says. “There was so much good material and I wanted to try to get it all in.”

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Alita: Battle Angel VFX

    How Previsualization Helps Create Pitches for Projects Like 'Alita: Battle Angel'

    Filmmakers are increasingly using previsualization, a now-standard technique for planning highly technical shots and sequences, as a tool for pitching a project to production companies, investors and studio executives — before a single full scene has actually been shot. More creatives are relying on the technique, dubbed “pitchvis,” to fashion a compelling and engaging presentation [...]

  • A Quiet Place

    Production Growth Stretches Crafts Talent Pool, but Experience Is Still Needed

    The growing number of outlets for movies and television means that demand for qualified artisans is at an all-time high. But while job opportunities have multiplied, the path to success — and potential elite status — is still a difficult one that requires on-the-job training, experience and skill development to deliver top-notch results. Some of [...]

  • Queen and Adam Lambert Live

    How the Queen + Adam Lambert Tour Brought the Opera to Arenas

    Just as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic of late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, wowed moviegoers last year, stage design firm Stufish Entertainment Architects has helped Queen + Adam Lambert’s current U.S. tour deliver a screen spectacular of its own. The tour, which plays New Orleans on Aug. 20 and Atlanta on Aug. 22, touched down at [...]

  • Mark Damon, CEO & Chairman, Foresight

    Mark Damon's DCR Finance Receives $150 Million for Financing Georgia Films (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mark Damon’s DCR Finance Corp., co-headed with financer Adi Cohen, has received a $150 million investment from Go Media Productions for Georgia projects, Variety has learned exclusively. Damon, whose credits include “2 Guns” and “Lone Survivor,” made the announcement Monday with Cohen. The deal calls for Atlanta-based Go Media Productions to join a private placement as [...]

  • The Handmaid's Tale -- "Household" -

    ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Crew on Why the Lincoln Memorial Shoot Was Worth the Effort

    Shooting on location at a national monument may seem glamorous, but it often involves extensive prep to comply with strict regulations, restrictions and crowds — all for a short on-screen moment. For the cast and crew of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the seven months of planning and negotiations required for a one-day shoot at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content